Although most funerals in the UK are arranged through funeral directors, it’s possible to arrange a funeral yourself without using a funeral director. You could save more than £1,000 by arranging the funeral yourself. But it will require more effort on your part.
The total cost of the funeral will depend on third party (disbursement) fees and the optional extras you choose. You can find out more about this in our article ‘How much does a funeral cost?’
This guide will help you arrange a simple cremation, without using a funeral director.
1. Care of the person who has died
If the person died in a hospital or hospice, they’ll keep and care for the body for a reasonable amount of time.
They’ll also normally arrange for a medical certificate with a cause of death.
But if the person died at home, you must call for a doctor or ambulance to get the medical certificate.
If the death does not need to be referred to the coroner, you can care for the person at home.
You can lay them out in a cool space, ideally for under a week, while you buy a coffin and book the ceremony.
2. Register the death
In England and Wales, you will not need a confirmatory medical certificate to authorise a cremation. The rules in Scotland and Northern Ireland are slightly different. You can find out more on the British Medical Association (BMA) website.
You must register the death at a registry office within five days (or eight days in Scotland).
You can’t make further arrangements until you do this.
You’ll need to take the medical certificate, which is signed by a doctor, when you register the death.
Visit the GOV.UK website for more information on how to register a death.
Once you’ve registered the death, you’ll get a Certificate for Burial or Cremation (the ‘green form’), and a Certificate of Registration of Death (form BD8).
You’ll need the ‘green form’ to book the crematorium.
3. Pick a coffin or shroud
Legally, you don’t have to use a coffin for a funeral - a shroud is a suitable and affordable alternative.
The crematorium or cemetery can advise you on what personal items you can place with the body if you’re thinking of using a shroud.
You can sometimes find more affordable coffins and shrouds online.
The coronavirus outbreak has imposed serious restrictions on funerals, which makes organising a meaningful ceremony seem difficult. You can find out more about what you can do on the Quaker Social Action websiteopens in new window
4. Book the crematorium
To book the crematorium, you’ll need to fill in a form at the crematorium, usually named as an ‘Authority for the disposal of cremated remains’.
They might also ask you to complete a ‘funeral instruction form’.
You’ll need to fill in the details of the person who has died, and your preferences for timings and music during the ceremony.
5. Choose who will lead a ceremony if you want one
Having a ceremony is a very personal decision.
But if you or the person who has died wanted one, you can plan and lead it yourself.
The Good Funeral Guide website has some advice on leading the ceremony.
Alternatively, you could ask an ‘independent funeral celebrant’ or a member of the clergy to do this.
To find someone to lead the service, ask the crematorium or cemetery for a list of local contacts, or visit the Funeral Celebrants website.
If you don’t want a ceremony, you could opt for a direct cremation. This is where a body is cremated at a convenient time without any ceremony or mourners attending.
Find out more about direct cremation in our article ‘How much does a funeral cost?’
6. Transport the body
You’ll need to arrange transport to the crematorium. You don’t have to use a hearse to do this.
You can transport the coffin or shroud in an estate car or van.
You can get more advice on arranging the funeral yourself on the Good Funeral Guide and Natural Death Centre websites.
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